MELAKA, Nov 20 — Forty-three per cent of the voters in the Melaka state election turned up to exercise their right as at 1pm today, despite the cloudy weather and drizzle reported in some areas.

In balancing the demands of democracy and the people’s health, due to the Covid-19 pandemic which is still not over, the voting process is strictly conducted in compliance with the standard operating procedures set by the Election Commission (EC) to prevent the spread of the virus.

Voters were seen queuing as early as 7.30am to fulfil their responsibilities, although the polling centres only opened at 8am.

So far, no SOP violations have been reported.

As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and ensure safety of voters and election officials, the halls and schools being used as polling centres are sanitised every hour, r school halls or schools used as polling centres are also sanitized once an hour, but the frequency changes for polling centres with lesser voters.

EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh also went down to the ground to observe the voting process at several locations and ensure it went smoothly.

Meanwhile, contesting candidates also took the opportunity of the fairly fine morning weather to cast their votes early, to avoid a worsening weather condition in the afternoon.

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department, the weather in the morning is forecast to be clear in Melaka Tengah, Jasin and Alor Gajah districts and thunderstorms in the afternoon in all areas.

Among the candidates who went to cast their votes early are Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidates for the Tanjung Bidara seat Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh and Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, respectively; Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate for Bukit Katil Adly Zahari and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali who is defending the Lendu seat.

Others are PH candidate for Asahan, Datuk Seri Idris Haron and his wife, and also Independent candidate for Pengkalan Batu Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee, who rode a motorcycle to the polling station.

Polling for the Melaka state election started at 8am today with the opening of 217 polling centres involving 1,109 channel, and being handled by a total of 12,290 election officials in 28 state constituencies.

Polling will end at 5.30pm.

There are 476,037 ordinary voters out of a total of 495,195 registered voters in the state.

The Melaka state election was called following the dissolution of the state assembly on October 4, following the action of four state assemblymen in withdrawing support for the chief minister. ­— Bernama